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We are surrounded by amazing people

I am truly blessed to work with so many dedicated and compassionate catechetical leaders in our diocese.  It is a testament of faith to witness such optimism and commitment as we take on the many challenges COVID-19 has brought upon us. We have been listening and accompanying many DRE’s and pastors as they discern and develop plans for providing catechetical and sacramental formation for their parish communities.  Although it is a difficult task, it has brought creative minds together and has allowed for partnerships and collaboration between parishes to happen.  Some of our parishes are excited about creating kits for families that would include not only the text and lessons for instruction but also items that help families create a space for prayer within their homes as a domestic church.  We have catechists and DREs beginning to familiarize themselves with the technology needed for the creation of short videos for instruction and developing ways to connect with children and families.  Some DREs are training on how to offer their whole catechetical programs on-line under different platforms available for instruction.   

This is a shift from the norm that we are used to when planning a catechetical year. The Holy Spirit continues to move us and bless us with the knowledge, wisdom, and creativity to respond to our specific needs today.  Some parish communities have not had a break! Some of our DREs are completing First Communions while registering new students and preparing for a new catechetical year.  Your diligence and dedication genuinely inspire us under these difficult circumstances. We recognize that things might get worse before they get better. We are here to support and accompany you along the way. 

As we get closer to the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, we are reminded that we can always consecrate ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  We ask our mother, Mary, to walk with us and accompany us.  She always brings our needs and prayers to her beloved Son.  We pray for families that have been affected or lost loved ones due to COVID-19.  In a particular way, we pray for all DREs and catechists, who we love and cherish, for all they do for our parish programs and for the Diocese of Austin. 

This month’s newsletter will feature links to relevant documents that offer recommendations and protocols for how to plan for in-person ministry formation programs. Please take the time to review and share these resources with your parish office and pastor as you continue to discern and plan for programs this fall. Maryrae shares several resources for the formation of families and adult learners, including links to on-line applications.  We have shifted all courses for certification to an on-line format utilizing virtual instruction.  We offer a listing of classes for the fall.  Finally, we are so excited to feature one of our very own catechetical leaders. Beth Cowles has developed an innovative website with podcasts to help catechetical leaders. We are so proud of Beth and all her accomplishments.   
The Office of Evangelization & Catechesis and the Office of Youth, Young Adult & Campus Ministry will continue to find and develop additional resources to help in the upcoming catechetical year.  Contact any member of our offices if you have any questions or need any assistance.    

Gustavo Rodriguez
Director of Evangelization and Catechesis
Please review the following documents as you develop a parish catechetical formation plan for the fall. All of the resources below can also be found on our Diocesan Website under the two different web pages:

(COVID E&C and YYACM Resources)
(YYACM Resources)
Formation Options Memo 2020-2021
Monthly Topics and Lessons for Catechetical Instruction
Protocols for In-Person Ministry (English)
Protocols for In-Person Ministry (Spanish)
Ministry Waiver (English)
Ministry Waiver (English)
Suggested Outline for Day of Reflection


 In 1983 Pope St John Paul II called for a new A NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR FORMING FAMILIES
In an essay published by the Growing Up Catholic Co., Bill Huebsch asks “What if every parent with a child in catechesis or religious education was coached by the parish catechists to take a direct role in forming his, her or their own children … if every parent was coached to play a role similar to a one on one sponsor in the catechumenate … how would that change the face of catechesis?” The pandemic has given us the opportunity to reimagine and re-prioritize our programs to form children, youth and the adults who lead their households in new ways. It is exciting to envision families recognizing, perhaps for the first time, how their faith fits into their everyday lives. Huebsch reminds us, that “faith   is not separate from the joys and sorrows, the griefs and anxieties we all face”. By empowering parents to be the primary teachers of the faith for their children, we help families discover the love of God  in Jesus Christ.

     Many of our publishers, as well as websites included in this and past newsletters, provide resources for family faith-sharing that teach families small intentional steps that build up the domestic church. In my recent conversations with many DREs across the diocese, I have been inspired by the creativity and leadership shown as they work out ways to evangelize and catechize the families they serve, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.  
 (great to supplement digital lessons or packets): Below are free resources that can extend a teaching in any model used with families:

For those finding it difficult to attend Mass or watch on live stream, here are two resources that can assist DREs in providing a Liturgy of the Word that parents can lead in their home:

For adults seeking to begin new faith practices, begin a small group study, or deepen their knowledge of the faith, these are a few websites that can meet those needs:
Evangelical Catholic “Nextstep”:  Many people want to grow closer to God, but they don't know how or what to do next. They feel alone, adrift in a world that doesn't even talk about God, with no one to guide them. But God calls everyone into deep, intimate friendship with him. It is possible. Nextstep guides believers step-by-step into the profound, authentic relationship with God they are made for.

  • Study the Sunday scriptures:  Contains Sunday readings, multiple reflections from different authors, study notes from different perspectives, music, & intercessions. Teens and adults
  • Free course from the University of Notre Dame faculty covering the four pillars of the faith.
  • Small Group Study for Senior Adults on Living Gracefully during the Pandemic (free)

Engaging Parents when Engaging Parents is Hard   -Paul Canavese from The Pastoral Center & Growing Up Catholic:  This year, a pandemic forced us into the Year of the Domestic Church, whether we liked it or not. The experience is highlighting just how important the role of parents is and how much work we still need to do to coach, equip, and engage parents to share faith with their children. Gain some fresh ideas for how to motivate parents to a new normal in which they are true partners in forming their own kids.  Video can be found here.



September 20, 2020
Theme: I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you


ENGAGING VIDEOS IN SPANISH to add to your Lesson Plan:
LENTE CATOLICO: Nuestra fe en videos divertidos e informativos     NUEVO!
La compañía Family Theater Productions se dedica a crear contenido audiovisual para la formación en la fe de nuestras familias. Sus productos incluyen películas, cortometrajes, videos y series en línea, y una extensa presencia en las redes sociales. Sus programas de radio y televisión se ven en muchos países alrededor del mundo. Recomendamos la serie digital Lente Católico como una herramienta útil para motivar el crecimiento en la fe de los niños mayores, adolescentes y familias. Su contenido puede ser visto en:

Maryrae Stein
Assoc. Director for Catechesis & Formation 


August is Here!

August is already here, and June and July have come on gone. Our summer dynamics have been quite different from previous summers.  The quiet time of reconciling records, closing out the year and keeping up with housekeeping duties at the parish have simply been the “still-to-do” duties added to the pending tasks list. Many DREs are still having sacramental celebrations, some offered VBS via Zoom, while others attended our Zoom certification classes all while trying to develop a plan that best fits their parish for the fall.  The DRE title “Does Really Everything” has never been truer! Regardless of how the future looks, we still move forward in order to bring the faith to our parish community.

This fall we will continue to offer classes virtually. We will be offering the Basic Teachings program virtually on Saturdays beginning in September in both English and Spanish. This opportunity allows for your catechetical teams to participate safely from their homes. We will also continue to offer our 16-hour courses during evening Tuesday sessions. This fall our schedule consists of Church History in September, Ecclesiology in October and Morality in November. Listed below is the schedule and registration details.

Basics Teachings of the Catholic Church

Saturdays via Zoom—English
To register, click here:

September 19, 2020 Sacred Scripture 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
October 3, 2020 Creed 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
October 24, 2020 Sacraments 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
November 7, 2020 Morality 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
November 21, 2020 Prayer 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Saturdays via Zoom—Spanish
To register, click here:
September 19, 2020 Sagrada Escritura 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
October 3, 2020 Credo 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
October 24, 2020 Liturgia y Sacramentos 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
November 7, 2020 Moralidad 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
November 21, 2020 Oración y Espiritualidad 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Catholic Adult Formation Classes— English 16-hour courses via Zoom

To register for Church History, click here:

September 8, 2020 Church History 6:30-9:30 p.m.
September 15, 2020 Church History 6:30-9:30 p.m.
September 22, 2020 Church History 6:30-9:30 p.m.
September 29, 2020 Church History 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Registration for classes below will open soon!
October 6, 2020 Church / Ecclesiology 6:30-9:30 p.m.
October 13, 2020 Church / Ecclesiology 6:30-9:30 p.m.
October 20, 2020 Church / Ecclesiology 6:30-9:30 p.m.
October 27, 2020 Church / Ecclesiology 6:30-9:30 p.m.
November 3, 2020 Morality 6:30-9:30 p.m.
November 10, 2020 Morality 6:30-9:30 p.m.
November 17, 2020 Morality 6:30-9:30 p.m.
December 1, 2020 Morality 6:30-9:30 p.m.


Preparing Families for At-Home Catechesis

As you know, Maryrae, Gustavo and I spent much of July checking in with DREs and reached almost 80 of you! These phone calls have been very fruitful not only for the DREs but for us as well. It has been great to hear about your fall planning and it has allowed for us to know directly from you how we can continue to support you and your catechetical teams. We will continue with the phone calls and hope to connect with every single one of you. If we have yet to reach you, please feel free to contact us directly!

Through these calls, we have found that many of you are planning to provide your families with packets. Some of you have asked what items should be included in these family packets. Below is a listing of suggested items to include, but be creative:

  • Publisher student book (please respect copyright laws)
  • Diocesan prayer book (per student or per family)
  • Parent instruction guide/manual
  • List of assignments and due dates
  • Calendar for fall (liturgical calendar can be added)
  • DRE / Catechists contact information
  • Welcome note from DRE / Pastor / Catechists
  • Parish bulletin with reference to website for future copies
  • Bible (one per family if possible)
  • Rosary for family
  • Instructions on how to set up home altar (decorate per liturgical season)
  • Extras can include: saint cards, holy water bottle
  • COVID-19 Safety Information Flyer
  • Enclose above materials in bag or box

DRE Deanery Representative Board

As a diocese, we are so blessed to have so many talented catechetical leaders in our eleven deaneries. Our DRE Deanery Representative Board consists generally of two DREs from each deanery. These board members meet with the E & C staff twice a year usually in February and August. As members reach their three-year term, new members are appointed. We are happy to share with you our updated list of members which came together on Tuesday, August 4, to discuss pertinent issues which will be shared at the diocesan wide DRE Zoom deanery meeting on August 11.  

Carolyn Martinez

Coordinator of Catechesis 



August Feature DRE:  Beth Cowles

Beth is the Coordinator of Elementary Religious Education for St. Anthony in Bryan. She attended Texas A&M University and earned a Master of Arts in Catechetics and Evangelization in December 2019 from Franciscan University of Steubenville. She also completed her Parish Catechetical Leader Certification Track through the Catechetical Institute and is a fully certified Diocese of Austin Director of Religious Education. 
Beth is married to Kristopher who is also a catechist and also involved is many ministries. Together they created their own website, Holy Owned and Operated (HOO™) which includes a podcast, blog and many resources. 
Feel free to visit the website!
Gustavo Rodriguez
Director, Office of Evangelization & Catechesis
Ph. (512) 949-2542 
Maryrae Stein
Assoc. Director for Catechesis & Formation
Ph. (512) 949-2469

Carolyn Martinez
Coordinator for Catechesis
Ph. (512) 949-2461

Sue Durango
Administrative Assistant
Ph. (512) 949-2492

Diocese of Austin - Pastoral Center
6225 Hwy 290 E, Austin, TX 78723
Phone: (512) 949-2400
Fax: (512) 949-2520

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